After finishing just tenth at the Circuit of the Americas last month Wayne Taylor Racing will be aiming to recapture the form – and luck – they had at the season opening Rolex 24 at Daytona this weekend with the Rolex Series grid coming together for the third round of the championship.
Drivers Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor will take to the Alabama track trying to improve on their fourth place in the early Daytona Prototype points standings as they try to better their second place finish from Daytona in January.
The pairing were, arguably, on course to do exactly that the COTA last month only for an ill-timed full course caution period to delete a comfortable lead before a penalty for contact following the ensuing restart dropped them out of the battle for the victory in the closing laps. With the series new race director – Paul Walter – having set out his stall with the penalties at Austin avoiding a repeat this weekend is at the forefront of the mind of both drivers as they prepare for this weekend’s two hour race.
“A lot of people were penalized at Austin, and also at Daytona, and I believe that is going to happen again,” reflected Angelelli. “My focus is to not get called in again, but I’m very convinced it will happen to other people because things are different. Unfortunately, I’m a little uncertain about how to approach races because, after working with the same guy for so long, I was used to his style. Now we have a new style and it’s difficult to get used to.”
“This is where I am confused about what is allowed and what is not allowed. Our series is very well known for very close racing, cars touching, contact. The last 20 minutes of a race, because it’s so difficult to overtake, people are defending their positions, people are attacking, that’s normal. The fans are coming to watch that kind of racing. It must be a show. Everybody has to understand that this is a show.”
The close nature of the Rolex Series racing is likely to be emphasized by the narrow, twisting 2.4 mile Barber track, where easy overtaking opportunities are at a premium.
Taylor explained; “more so than a lot of other tracks, you’re going to get some contact at Barber and, after Austin, everybody realized you really can’t touch anybody or else you’re going to get a big penalty. So the name of the game is to race clean. Even in the pits, if you hit a crew guy or hit somebody by accident, you’re going to get penalized. What we saw last year with a lot of rubbing and racing, I don’t think they’re going to allow this year, but I’m sure with 30 minutes to go, if there are five cars nose-to-tail, you’ll see some contact near the end of the race and hopefully the result will be decided on the racetrack. In the beginning and middle of the race, while everyone tries to settle in, there’s not going to be much excitement, I’m sure.”